Clinic - Helping Elders Through Litigation and Policy Help

Credits: 3.00
Faculty: Jane Landry-Reyes, Deirdre Lok

Students will work with a staff attorney at two partner legal organizations, Brooklyn Legal Services, Elderlaw Project and the Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale. Students carry their own caseload work with a day and a half at their clinic placement at the Brooklyn Legal Services office and the balance of their hours flexibly spent on assignments distributed through the seminar, and that can be done remotely. The partner organizations would be responsible for case assignment and supervision. Student-attorneys will develop lawyering and counseling skills such as client interviewing, drafting and argument of motions, trial preparation and representation in court and at hearings. Clients' cases will be litigated in fora such as: Family Court to obtain Orders of Protection in an elder abuse case; Housing Court to prevent evictions, negotiate settlements on rent arrears and to enforce rights to repairs; Supreme Court to challenge arbitrary Agency decisions affecting benefits and housing or in Article 81 Guardianship proceedings; Administrative hearings to challenge improper terminations of public housing, denials of Social Security/SSI or other public benefits like Food Stamps and/or in hearings to obtain appropriate levels of Medicaid for an elder abuse victim or Medicaid funded home attendant care to ensure independent living in the least restrictive environment. In addition to individual representation, students may also work on investigations of reports of abuse and with the District Attorney in cases of crimes and may play a role in pending Guardianship proceedings. There may be opportunities to work with or attend community multi-disciplinary meetings, and research and write and/or advocate on behalf of older adults through a variety of policy issues ranging from ethics, privacy rights, consent to sexual activity, and access to justice for older adults. Students will also have the important experience of learning and assessing cognitive abilities of older adults through possible interviews and home visits to mobility impaired clients. Seminar Credis: 2.0 Seminar: The clinic's 2 credit seminar component will provide context and support for the students' direct service and policy work. Students will be introduced to the nature and ethics of elder law in a public interest context. This course will address the full range of rights and remedies that comprise an elder rights focused attorney's toolkit, including advanced planning via powers of attorney and other legal documents, housing court proceedings, capacity assessment, guardianship and public benefits. Elder abuse and its impact on the attorney-client relationship will also be covered. They also will learn about the provision of important ancillary services to their legal representation vital to forming a thorough base of knowledge for an Elder Law practice. In addition to litigation, studentsĀ¹ casework and seminar exercises may therefore involve applications for, and appeals within the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) benefit program, emergency rent arrears assistance and applications for Medicaid Home Care and the Medicare Savings Program (which pays certain eligible seniorsĀ¹ Medicare premiums). Students would also be required to draft a health care proxy, power-of-attorney and other advanced directives and participate in other mock attorney-client exercises to teach best practices with respect to these basic documents.

Enrollment Notes:

The clinic enrolls approximately five students each semester.


Letter grade only.